“American lawyer Robert Swift is arriving in the country to distribute $1,000 each in token rites to be held at the Club Filipino,” Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales said in her speech before Air Force personnel who attended a human rights advocacy seminar here recently.
Swift is the US court-appointed lead counsel of the Marcos human rights victims who, in a class action suit filed way back in 1986, sought reparation from the ill-gotten wealth of former Pres. Marcos.
“It will be the first time ever for any of the victims to receive significant reparation,” Rosales said, adding that the CHR has been designated to act as “delivery centers” for the beneficiaries.
However, she stressed that not all the 7,526 beneficiaries should go to Club Filipino [on Feb. 28] as the distribution there “would be a mere token”. She said that other beneficiaries in the provinces would be duly informed on the venue for distribution in their areas.
Rosales said initially, there were 9,539 beneficiaries identified in the order of Judge Manuel Real of the US Federal District Court of Hawaii which, in 1992, had ordered the Marcoses to pay the victims $2 billion for damages.
She said, however, that the number was reduced to 7,526 after the other beneficiaries reportedly never replied to notices sent to them about the reparation processes.
She said that the $7.5 million now to be handed out to the victims comprise only one aspect of the compensation efforts, involving only assets recovered from Marcos crony Jose Campos under a compromise agreement covering properties in Colorado and Texas. Earlier, the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), an organization of Marcos-era detainees, reiterated appeals to Congress to pass the Marcos Victims Compensation bill.
The proposed legislation will officially recognize that the Marcos dictatorship indeed violated the rights of thousands who fought against it, said former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, national board member of SELDA and one of those who stand to receive reparation.
The class suit of the Marcos human rights victims has faced legal obstacles in collecting the $2-billion award, with the challenge mainly from the Philippine government which has argued that the Marcos ill-gotten wealth should be forfeited in its favor.
All the forfeited ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies go to fund the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as decreed by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
Former Sen. Jovito Salonga, first chairman of Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) whose main task was to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, said the Marcos loot came primarily from diverted foreign economic aid, US government military aid, including huge discretionary funds at Marcos disposal, as a ‘reward’ for sending some Filipino troops to Vietnam, and kickbacks from public works contracts.